At the beginning of their career, Saint Etienne were cast adrift from cutting-edge dance music for being shallow chancers with a rather populist touch. Yet on recent releases the same threepiece have received grudging respect due to in part their longevity and of course an improvement in their songwriting skills. The populist touch still remains and there's nothing wrong with that especially when they are accompanied by a tougher, less easily-washed away sound. One can hear this in the thumping house of both opener 'Action' and again on 'Shower Scene'. Instrumentals still veer towards cheesiness; 'Language Lab' is part spanish guitar, part Stereolab mellotrons but tellingly all easy listening. 'Stop And Think It Over' displays their usual trick of bringing late-60s pop into the next century. But it's the diversions away from the formulaic that satisfy the most; the indie-folk style of 'Summerisle' and two well-chosen guest vocalists. Sarah Cracknell sings well enough in her usual sugary sweet way, but when she is teamed up with rapper Wildflower on 'Soft Like Me' or Sarah Churchhill's bitter spoken word vocal on the closing title track the contrast is definitely complemetary. 10 years ago it would be almost unheard of for dance music to produce great albums, 'Finisterre' is certainly very close to being one.
You can listen to track 7 from the album Shower Scene in Real One Player format.